University of Oulu

Power, S. A., Zittoun, T., Akkerman, S., Wagoner, B., Cabra, M., Cornish, F., Hawlina, H., Heasman, B., Mahendran, K., Psaltis, C., Rajala, A., Veale, A., & Gillespie, A. (2023). Social Psychology of and for World-Making. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 27(4), 378-392.

Social psychology of and for world-making

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Author: Power, Séamus A.1; Zittoun, Tania2; Akkerman, Sanne3;
Organizations: 1University of Copenhagen, Denmark
2Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
3Utrecht University, The Netherlands
4Aalborg University, Denmark
5Oslo New University College, Norway
6London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
7York St. John University, UK
8The Open University, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK
9University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
10University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
11University of Oulu, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, Finland
12University College Cork, Ireland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-09

Academic Abstract

Social psychology’s disconnect from the vital and urgent questions of people’s lived experiences reveals limitations in the current paradigm. We draw on a related perspective in social psychology1—the sociocultural approach—and argue how this perspective can be elaborated to consider not only social psychology as a historical science but also social psychology of and for world-making. This conceptualization can make sense of key theoretical and methodological challenges faced by contemporary social psychology. As such, we describe the ontology, epistemology, ethics, and methods of social psychology of and for world-making. We illustrate our framework with concrete examples from social psychology. We argue that reconceptualizing social psychology in terms of world-making can make it more humble yet also more relevant, reconnecting it with the pressing issues of our time.

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Public Abstract

We propose that social psychology should focus on “world-making” in two senses. First, people are future-oriented and often are guided more by what could be than what is. Second, social psychology can contribute to this future orientation by supporting people’s world-making and also critically reflecting on the role of social psychological research in world-making. We unpack the philosophical assumptions, methodological procedures, and ethical considerations that underpin a social psychology of and for world-making. Social psychological research, whether it is intended or not, contributes to the societies and cultures in which we live, and thus it cannot be a passive bystander of world-making. By embracing social psychology of and for world-making and facing up to the contemporary societal challenges upon which our collective future depends will make social psychology more humble but also more relevant.

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Series: Personality and social psychology review
ISSN: 1088-8683
ISSN-E: 1532-7957
ISSN-L: 1088-8683
Volume: 27
Issue: 4
Pages: 378 - 392
DOI: 10.1177/10888683221145756
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © 2023 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Lficense ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (